Why You Board the Plane from the Left
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Why You Board the Plane from the Left

January 21, 2020

Okay, I say the word “Airplane” and what
do you imagine? I know, a very funny movie with really bad jokes, yeah, but let’s try
harder. Okay. “Big, white, a rounded nose, relatively small tires, two oddly angled wings
with their tips curling up, normally late taking off. Oh, and you always get on board
through the left side!” Yep, spot on! But WHY is all that so? Well let me tell ya. – Commercial aircraft usually have their wings
angled backward – that’s why they’re also called swept wings. This shape helps planes
be as fast as they are. The air moves over a wing at a higher speed than under it. This
creates shockwaves that would otherwise slow the plane down. But these unique swept wings
miraculously (kidding – it’s just physics) reduce the airflow speed above the wing. There
are no more shockwaves, and the plane can reach incredible speeds. – Besides being angled toward the rear, many
plane wings also have curved tips. Those are called winglets. When a plane is flying, there’s
a pressure difference between the wing’s lower and upper surface. This difference is big
enough to produce wingtip vortices (they’re something like mini-tornadoes, which sounds
pretty dangerous to me). Wingtip vortices lead to slower speeds, more fuel consumption,
higher CO2 emission, and safety issues. If another plane is following one that’s creating
such vortices, it can lose stability and end up in an emergency situation! Luckily, engineers
invented winglets to separate the two regions with different pressure, preventing those
vortices from appearing. – Ok, but why is the entire wing tilted upward
instead of being perfectly parallel with the ground? This upward angle is crucial for the
airplane’s stability. That stability is at risk when a jet comes across some obstacle,
like a bump from turbulence, that can make it roll to either side. When that happens,
the more upward wing gets less lift and naturally goes down. The wing that rolled downward becomes
more parallel to the ground and generates more lift – making it go up. And voila!
The plane levels out on its own, all thanks to the wings’ upward tilt. – Let’s delve deeper into that oh-so-important
lift – after all, it’s one of the forces that help a plane stay in the air and move
forward. The angle the oncoming air meets the wing at is known as the angle of attack.
The lift greatly depends on this angle. Take a wing and start tilting it upward (like when
a plane is taking off) – and you’ll see that the lift is getting better! But only until
a certain point. If you tilt the wing too much, the lift will get weaker or disappear
altogether! Then the plane will stall in the air and eventually fall. If the wings are
tilted down, the lift decreases. You can notice it when a plane is pitching down before landing.
Long story short: aircraft wings are an engineering marvel! – Another thing you may spot if you’re watching
an airplane about to touch the ground is that its landing gear is a bit tilted. On some
planes, the rear set of the wheels touches the ground first – like stepping with your
heel. The tilt serves several purposes: to soften the landing and absorb the touchdown
shock, to level the plane and prevent it from pitching forward, and to let the gear fit
properly in the gear well. – And since I’ve started talking about those
wheels, you ever notice how small they are for such a massive machine? Well, if you made
airplane wheels bigger, it would add extra load, and aircraft would waste more fuel carrying
them. And the more fuel a plane consumes, the more money an airline loses. That’s why
manufacturers have a tough task: they need to make airplane wheels and tires as small,
sturdy, and safe as possible, and they’ve accomplished that! – Airplane tires are also famous for being
super inflated: the pressure inside is 6 times greater than what’s in your car’s tires
and 4 times bigger than a person can withstand! Surprisingly, thanks to this pressure (as
well as the material they’re made of), airplane tires don’t burst under the immense weight
of a landing aircraft. – If you’re flying at night, you may see flashing
lights on your airplane’s wings. The light on the left wingtip is red, and the one on
the right is green. I know you can’t see both lights from where you’re stuck back
in the middle of the economy section, so trust me on this one. That lighting scheme helps
pilots figure out the direction of oncoming planes in the dark and avoid a collision.
The green and red lights on commercial aircraft must be on from sunset to sunrise. – Most airliners have nicely rounded noses,
but there are jets with pointy ones – so what decides it? Your aircraft’s nose shape
simply means that you aren’t going to travel faster than the speed of sound. During the
flight, a plane’s blunt nose pushes the air in front of the jet, allowing it to roll over
the airplane’s body more freely and without any serious resistance. The faster a plane
is, the sharper its nose will be since they need to cut through the air without meeting
too much resistance. That’s why almost all supersonic aircraft (ones that travel faster
than the speed of sound) have pointy noses. Just like the pointy-nosed witches on broomsticks.
Yes, they can go supersonic too. Didn’t know that, did you?
Then why not build commercial airplanes with pointed noses – won’t it make t hem faster?
Nope! If a plane’s speed is subsonic (lower than the speed of sound), the blunt nose causes
less drag – that’s one of the forces that keeps aircraft in the air but, at the same
time, slows them down. Plus, pointed noses are longer than blunt ones, so they may prevent
pilots from seeing the runway clearly. – Commercial airplanes have doors on both
sides, but in most cases, you board on the left. For one thing, it’s a tradition. Earlier,
airports were organized in such a way that a plane had to taxi up to the terminal building
and discharge passengers there. Pilots sat on the left side and needed to see where they
were going to put the plane’s door right in front of the terminal entrance. If they misjudged
the distance, they could hit the wing against the building. These days, left-side boarding
is more of a safety concern. The right side is used for fueling the plane and loading
and unloading baggage and cargo. If passengers were also entering aircraft from the right
side, it would mess up the whole process and probably lead to accidents. Boarding from
the left side may also have something to do with ship design. A ship’s left side is a
port side where people get on and off. Airplane and jetway manufacturers might’ve just followed
this maritime practice. – Modern commercial planes have at least 6
entrances (or exits): 2 in the front of the passenger cabin, 2 in the back, and 2 emergency
exits over the wings. C’mon, you remember that talk they give up right before takeoff?
Then why don’t airlines save time by letting people in through all the entrances at once?
Ok, maybe not the wing ones, but what about the other 4? Well, you can’t use the right
side because of the whole baggage and fueling thing I just mentioned. So, now we’re down
to a front and rear door on the left. Some airlines do use both for boarding and deplaning.
But those are mostly low-cost carriers that bring passengers to planes by buses and use
mobile stairways. But if people board an aircraft through a jetway, using both doors won’t work.
Jetways only reach the front left entrance. To reach the rear ones, they’d have to go
around the wing. In other words, jetways would have to be longer, which equals not only more
money spent but also more terminal space taken, which is already tight. And finally, the rear
and opposite-side doors are sometimes used to load food and drinks and take out the trash.
If passengers were boarding through them, it wouldn’t buy any additional time – it’d
actually slow everything down. – But returning to buses and mobile stairs:
why them, why not good ol’ jet bridges that can protect you from the elements every single
time? Some airports are just too busy and don’t have enough gates. It’s either using
buses and mobile stairs or waiting for hours for an available gate. Plus, if you’re flying
with a low-cost airline, it’ll try to save as much money as possible (after all, it’s
low-cost for a reason!). Since jetways and parking right near the gate cost a lot, budget
carriers prefer much more distant parking places, mobile bridges, and buses. That’s it. Gotta fly! Hey, if you learned something new today, feel
free to give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other videos
I think you’ll enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and stay on the Bright Side of life!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Why did you not do accounting of the plain cost to the customer's v/s the cost to fly to their landing area for departure to show their profit and lost so we can see why they are so profitable than most think?…

  2. Here is something, in the Air Force and Army the pilot in command sits on the left but in the Navy and Marine Corp the pilot sit on the right, why?  I know the answer, do you?

  3. In the winter at Palma Spain, easyJet can use the Jetway, airbridge for front loading, and rear steps as well. Just open 2 check-in desks next to each other. It can also speed up boarding.

  4. Thanks for flying conair" ..your inflight movies are bright side "things you should know about planes"…..second film"" twilight zone "".snakes on a plane"".enjoy! if you like these films give a thumbs up and stay safe on the bright side!

  5. If there is no bridge, I get picked up from the right. Why? I use a wheelchair and a lift comes and picks me up there (with someone from the airport). Ever had that? Give me a thumbs up!

  6. To me…not only ✈ …
    But also most of the transportation….???
    Like the buses, have the passenger door on the left side….Does it make sense?

  7. It’s because we board boats from from the left and that was the tradition and they keeped they was ever since and it is easier to board from the left rather board from the right and that’s why all jetways are built from the left

  8. It surprises me that aircraft tire pressure is 6 times higher than car tire pressure. How don't they explode when high up in the air, where atmospheric pressure is only about 1/4 of that at ground level? Why does one have to deflate the tires from a bicycle that is taken in luggage then?

  9. Lol an 8 minute video of why airplane doors are on the left only to wait almost 6 minutes to find out why… not sure about you man….

    BTW: Pilots sit on both sides, what you mean is the captain sits on the left side, and that’s really not the reason that you go in through the left. The Air Marshal waving you in is who makes sure the wings don’t hit the building

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